The industrial revolution changed not only manufacturing processes it also changed the very fabric of society and these changes continued through the 20th century and into our present time. As society moved from being farming communities and we began to spend long hours working in factories the way that families related changed. Life was no longer so integrated. We were moved from the source of our food production. Families were reduced to the immediate context of mother, father and children. Communities were substituted for housing developments that in suburbia became dormitories. They were the retreat that people came to after spending eight or more hours at work and up to 3 or 4 hours more commuting to their work. To live in these suburbs requires no commitment to its well being or function. This is all done by other community developers.
I like what Tim Costello says in his chapter on vocation from his book Tips from a Travelling Soul Searcher.
Perhaps life is not a race whose only goal is being foremost. Perhaps the truth lies in what most of the world outside the modern west has always believed, namely that there are practices in life, good in themselves, which are inherently fulfilling. Perhaps work that is intrinsically rewarding is better for human beings than work that is only extrinsically rewarded. Perhaps enduring commitment to those we love and civic friendship toward our fellow citizens are preferable to restless competition and anxious self defense. Perhaps common worship, in which we express gratitude and wonder in the face of the mystery of being itself, is the most important thin of all. If so we will have to change our lives and being to remember what we have been happier to forget. (Holiness of the Heart, quoted by Costello)
Today most jobs are regarded as commodities. Once what teachers, lawyers, bankers other professions did was seen as a benefit to their community. Their value was not just tied to the size of their pay packet. This has changed and a profession has become a commodity their where their services are contracted and tied to their economic production. Security, community, belonging are gone replaced .Many professionals are mourning their loss of vocation not just because they have lost their security but because they no longer have a tangible contribution to the benefit and welfare of their community
The key to discovering your workplace soul will be to discover that sense of vocation. To be able to remember those things that seem to be forgotten in today’s fast paced world. To relocate ourselves in the context of a meaningful community were we once again learn to talk and listen, and where we are able to be valued because of our spirit and not what we produce
It will be those organisations who are able to provide such a context that will provide an enduring contribution for the future. And those people who are able to contribute to such a context will rediscover something of the true intention of “work”. For them it will be transformed from what is often seen as a derogatory term to a sense of rediscovered calling and vocation.